Iceland is crowdsourcing its new constitution using social media

Pin it

Deciding to basically start from scratch after the 2008 financial crisis devastated its banks and government, the parliamentary republic of Iceland is now, in a cool, hyper-democratic move, turning to its citizens for ideas and feedback in drafting its new constitution. And in an unprecedented and forward-looking manner, the country is employing such social-media sites as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr to access the shared thoughts of the citizenry on what the new document should contain.

Iceland's current constitution dates back to 1944, and was basically adopted wholesale from Denmark's constitution — with a few tweaks — after Iceland gained independence from its neighbor that year. Iceland's constitutional council has made a draft of the document available online and is accepting recommendations for amending it, posting draft clauses on its website each week since the project began in April. The public can throw in their two cents on the website, or join a discussion on the council's Facebook page. Council meetings of the twenty-five members appointed by the Icelandic parliament to manage the process are streamed live on the website and Facebook page, allowing for greater transparency and interaction with citizens.

This "by the people, for the people" model of assembling a constitution is innovative and exciting. The draft bill should be ready by the end of July, and may be put to a referendum without any parliamentary changes, reflecting the will of the people. I don't think the Founding Fathers imagined dealing with Facebook trolls when they were putting their document together back in 1787, but on the whole, this has got to be some kind of progress.